Doctor’s prescription for happiness

Being grateful an important ingredient in the recipe

Those who are grateful live longer, healthier lives.

That was the message from Edward Diener, aka Dr. Happiness. The world-renowned psychologist and leading expert in scientific research on happiness shared his insight at the Kelowna Community Theatre as part of the University of B.C.’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

The presentation, titled The Science of Happiness: What We Know and How We Can Use it to Improve Society, both inspired and informed a near-full house.

“It’s not physics,” said Diener, who instead says there is not one key element to happiness, but a recipe of several factors.

And yes, one of them is money. But only to a certain extent.

The research shows that while covering basic necessities generally improves a person’s quality of life and therefore happiness, the more money you have does not necessarily equate to increased happiness.

“Money’s not everything,” said Diener.

But combined with other elements, such as social relationships and work, it plays a part.

“There are dozens of things you can do to be a happier individual,” said Diener.

“Be grateful, that’s one that I’m still working on, and be positive to others. Remember not just to criticize others but to say positive things. You can’t say enough positive to other people, giving them compliments and thanks.

“Support others, don’t just look for support, be a support.

“Develop a habit of seeing the good in the world and others.”

With recent events like the Las Vegas shootings, while obviously devastating, in the big scheme of things it was small compared to plague, depression and world wars that have occurred, said Diener. Taking this into account, as well as seeing the good that has come from such tragedy is important, he urges.

“We’ve got to also see that there were millions of dollars given and thousands of people giving blood.

“Don’t just look at the bad things in the world, don’t catastrophize. Realize this will go away, we’ll get through this. Do what you can and then move on.”

Diener is working to have his research used and accepted by leaders, to both guide policies and improve society.

“You want citizens to be happy to function better,” he said, adding that still more needs to be done. “We need to have national counts of well being to supplement economic counts.”

But all-in-all, we’re pretty happy with all things considered.

And in fact Canadians are among the world’s happiest people.